Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Raymond Becomes Interior Minister

Two bits of hilarious news culled from today's The News... I'll deal with the second one in a separate post...

The first one tells us that after winning a Senate seat, interior czar Rehman Malik has finally made it to full ministership (as opposed to advisership with the status of a full minister). It actually makes no difference at all to the people of Pakistan, not in terms of his job description or what he was doing (or not doing), nor in terms of the perks and privileges he was enjoying and will continue to enjoy. But it might force Fatima Bhutto to revise that line in her articles about unelected advisers holding the most important positions in this government.

But that is not the bit that caught my attention. About the only thing interesting about Rehman Malik being sworn in as federal interior minister was his Profile issued by the Interior Ministry (why this profile was not issued when he became de facto head of the ministry last year, I do not know; perhaps they needed time to 'research' it). Among the other swashbuckling superhero / Dick Tracy-like exploits and achievements it lists is the following:

"A post 9/11 Hollywood film under the name of Path to 9/11 based on his investigative work was televised both in USA and by BBC, UK. Famous Hollywood actor Art Malik played his role in the film."

Obviously, Mr. Malik had something to do with writing this profile since I have yet to come across such assiduous interest in the arts from even the culture ministry, let alone the interior ministry. But why the interior ministry or even Mr. Malik thinks it important to play this association up in the minister's official profile, is a bit beyond me. Especially since Art Malik also played the psychopathic Islamist terrorist in the Arnold Schwarzenneger vehicle True Lies. But there is obviously no accounting for tastes, or stopping those hungry for Hollywood-style glamour.

In actual fact, "Path to 9/11", far from being a Hollywood blockbuster, was a two-part television mini-series that ran on the American network ABC as well as, subsequently, on a number of other international channels. It starred the well-known actor Harvey Keitel, whereas Art Malik's name is 12th (!) on the official credit list. Not only that, it is obvious from the synopsis that, rather than being based on Col. Raymond Malik's "investigations", the story is actually about the alleged missed opportunities by the US government since the 1993 World Trade Center bombings to get Osama bin Laden, told throught the perspective of CIA and FBI operatives. This of course should be sort of evident from the name itself but also if you think about what possible "investigations" Rehman Malik could have been conducting while living in exile in London as a fugitive from the law from 1996 to 2007. The official profile also claims that "there are a number of international media reports highlighting his work in the field of anti-terrorism and money laundering" and that "there are around 1.43 million internet results on him." As far as I remember, it was he who was accused of money laundering, including because of his part-ownership of a company involved in the scandal-plagued UN oil-for-food Iraqi programme. Oh, and yeah, if you do a Google search for ALL Rehmans and ALL Maliks in the world, you get about that many results, not that the number of Google results has the slightest bit of relevance to why a man should be appointed interior minister.

But coming back to Path to 9/11, this is how the Wikipedia entry on it begins:

"The film was initially promoted as having a high level of authenticity, with claims that its screenplay was "based on the 9/11 Commission Report", but controversy arose when this claim was later removed by ABC. Critics pointed out that key scenes were fictional in nature, and controversy ensued."

In fact, there was so much outrage over the inaccuracies in the film that not only Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, FBI consultants and historians but even Harvey Keitel strongly criticised the film. In fact, because of this outcry, the DVD of the miniseries has still not been released, although the film first aired in 2006.This is what a bunch of Democratic Senators wrote at that time to the Walt Disney Company which owns ABC:

"Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation."

Which of course makes it perfectly fitting that Rehman 'Raymond' Malik should cite it as one of his glowing achievements!


Tazeen said...


loved this post

XYZ said...

Merci. Sometimes I think comedians and satire-writers have it too easy in Pakistan... Of course, it would be nice if someone in the media could do some basic fact-checking but perhaps that is asking too much from the breathless clowns we have to contend with.